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£14m housing project hits the headlines

A £14m housing project in Hyndburn is being held up as an example of a new approach to regenerating communities in decline.

A £14m housing project in Hyndburn is being held up as an example of a new approach to regenerating communities in decline.

Improvement works are underway to restore a total of 200 empty properties in Woodnook.

The project has hit the national headlines and the BBC will be documenting its progress over the next 18 months, which  began with a feature on The One Show on Tuesday evening.

Presenter Tony Livesey was shown around Accrington – dubbed a ‘ghost-town’ in recent reports – by Hyndburn council deputy leader Clare Pritchard and developers PlaceFirst.

Coun Pritchard said the subject of the feature was that there had been a shift in opinion of how to deal with the blight of empty properties, away from the large-scale demolition and rebuilding programmes under the Housing Market Renewal (HMR) Scheme. She said: “They are going to be revisiting over the next 18 months of the project.

“It’s all about how we're dealing with empty properties differently. It was about why we renovated them rather than just knocking them down and building new ones.

“A lot of the work done under HMR was good work, but I wouldn’t necessarily subscribe to mass demolition.”

Hyndburn has the second highest proportion of empty dwellings in the country at seven per cent. But work has begun on improving boarded up properties in Royds Street, Booth Street and Augusta Street.

The scheme will transform ‘two up, two down’ terraced housing into energy efficient two, three and four bedroom homes.

Coun Pritchard added: “We have already started work on houses now. The back walls of two of the blocks are down and it’s made a big difference.”

The HMR scheme was brought to an end by the coalition government, with the Conservatives branding it a failure and claiming it bulldozed communities.

 
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